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Veteran Member - Level 11
Valve is amazing and tonight I'm going to show you one of
the many reasons why. But before I do it's probably best if I provide a little
I've been a PC gamer for a long time now and one of the
major benefits to gaming on the PC is the benefit and availability of mods -
content usually created by somebody other than the official developer for a
I've always been fascinated with modding. I've experimented
with it on several occasions for many different games and I've mentioned it in
a blog or two over the years. The first game I ever tried to blog was Doom II.
Doom II used a WAD file to store all the game data, and if you were smart
enough and had the right software tools you could manipulate the data in the
WAD file and make all sorts of interesting content or modify what was already
there. The WAD file must be somewhat iconic - it even has its own Wikipedia entry.
"I still remember the
first time I saw the original Star Wars DOOM mod. Seeing how someone had put
the death star into our game felt so amazingly cool. I was so proud of what had
been made possible, and I was completely sure that making games that could serve
as a canvas for other people to work on was a valid direction." -John D. Carmack
I'd like to say it was me...but it wasn't. About the best I
could do was modify the rate of fire and ammunition type of the weapons. But I
certainly played a lot of mods, some of which were brilliantly crafted. The
most sought after capability was also the most challenging - creating your own
maps and levels. There were a few very rudimentary level editors, but you
really had to know what you were doing if you wanted to actually produce
anything - and unfortunately I didn't know what I was doing.
Sometime later, I got into modifying Rainbow Six. Once
again, the game didn't really have a level editor, so I was limited on what I
could do. I remember one particular map where one team was holed up in a
mansion, and the other team had to assault the compound and take them out.
Well, I modified it by dropping in a Hum Vee and giving it a path to travel
along. My thought was the assaulting team could run behind the Hum Vee and use
it for cover... Unfortunately the first time I used it on a server I was running live
with real people...things didn't go so well even though I had playtested it
myself several times. My team ran behind the Hum Vee just like I had hoped, but
for whatever reason when we made it to the house the Hum Vee (or my
programming) glitched and the Hum Vee ran over one of my teammates and crashed
through the house (I suppose "clip" is a more accurate term). Oh well, back to
the drawing board.
So, tonight I'm going to share with you one of the easiest,
most comprehensive level editors I have ever seen in 20+ years of gaming. Yes, it's
so easy a caveman could do it. I know this, because I was able to use it. In
about 2 minutes I created my first level, compiled it and played it. Granted it
was truly about as simple of a level as you can get. But still, I only did it
to showcase the utility.
Now obviously you know the editor is from Valve, hence the
introduction. But which of their games could it be? None other than, Portal 2.
The mod tools didn't ship with the game, but they have been
out for a while now. I downloaded it when they came out, but I just never
really got around to testing it out...until recently. It is amazing how simple
yet how powerful this tool is.
So let's get started. I'll show you my 2 minute map.
First Step - Load the game and select Create Test Chambers.
The default level - the menu on the left contains all the items you can add to the map.
Here is the default map after it is rendered and ready to play.
Here is a sentry I dropped into the level to guard the door.
Let's say I want to manipulate the shape of the room, I can push or pull any of the squares.
In this example, I pulled that section of the wall out.
In this image, you can see my basic map. A sentry behind glass and a ball dropper.
Here it is rendered. The goal - drop the ball on the aerial faith plate and hit the sentry.
To make it more challenging, I'll use portals to land the ball on the aerial faith plate.
Score! A direct hit... Although it did take 3 attempts before I hit the sentry.
This image pretty much captures it all - set your portals up, click the button... the ball falls through the orange portal and exits out the blue portal, hits the aerial faith plate, is launched over the wall hitting the sentry and disabling it so you can jump on the aerial faith plate and get launched over the glass wall. You can see the exit to the right.
Now you see why I opened this blog praising Valve. This map
tool is amazing and hundreds of Portal 2 gamers have created exceptional maps
to complement those that already come with the game. I look at this and think
about other games that could benefit from such a tool.
If you want to see the whole process in motion, here is a YouTube video (not me).
If you're new to modding or you have played Portal 2 and have
some great ideas for maps you'd like to see, you should check this tool out and
just go ahead and create it. And even if you don't create some masterpiece of a
level, you'll still get a cool little badge to make you feel all important.
Saint, employee of Aperture Laboratories? I wish!
Brilliant, just brilliant. Being mainly a console gamer (PC is used for MMO games which usually are closed-sourced), mods are something we often are amazed with. Despite living within the PC community for years now.
I always found it fun to play LittleBigPlanet simply because of it's childish feel and the fact you could create your own level. You could even make a movie in LittleBigPlanet 2. Anyways, great job for a two minute level. I'd like to see you make a LittleBigPlanet level. That, I doubt could be made in a good two minutes.
Wow, that looks really cool, and reminds me why I spent so much time in Little Big Planet 2's level editor. As far as modding a PC game, Morrowind's the only one I've ever really tried. I tried using a mod that made the road signs readable (they were normally gibberish similar to Super Mario 64's ). Then the entire world vanished lol. I still have no idea what happened.
Yes, Portal 2's perpetual testing initiative and level creation is epic and easy as well. I love it to death.
Didn't the PS3 version of Portal 2 come with a Steam download? I hope my brother didn't already download it. I remember I used to love making levels for Tony Hawk on N64.
All of my friends mod, and I'm thinking of doing it too. What exactly is the name of the Portal 2 editor you did, and can you tell me how to get it?
Wow, that's awesome! I've tried the tools in Little Big Planet 2, Super Meat Boy PC, & Trials Evolution. I liked the potential for what I could do but the tools were initially complicated & I never took the time to learn them. Then again, I stopped playing Minecraft for quite awhile because I thought it seemed too complicated. HAHA!
I started to get into modding about two years ago. I mainly mod grand strategy games, namely Paradox Interactive's games. Last November I released my first full version mod to the public for Europa Universalis III. It's very exciting and rewarding to watch others enjoy your creations that you put so much time and effort into. You can check it out on Paradox Forums if you want to-
Good luck with your future modding efforts.
Totally agree. Modding is by far my favorite thing about PC gaming. While I lack the skills to make any mods myself, it doesn't stop me from playing the heck out of them. In fact, for a period of one or two years about 4 years back, practically all I played was Source mods like Insurgency, Empires, Eternal Silence, and Age of Chivalry. Good times.
As for the Portal level editor, yeah, its easy enough for anyone to use it. Actually designing a level is a different matter....
On my DS, a game called Warioware DIY let me make 2D sprites, backgrounds, and assign triggers and commands, letting me make games. It was a bit basic, but it could be pushed to make some interesting minigames. I loved using it, and my games got better as I went on.
All I can say is, consoles are missing out. And great blog!
Being mainly a console gamer, I don't have much experience with mods. The only thing I've been able to do is download and install some texture packs on Minecraft. For some reason, they're a lot easier to figure out than some of the more impressive mods, like tekkit, which I couldn't figure out for some reason.